By now most readers of this website should have already seen the second installment of the Avengers-franchise, Age of Ultron, AoU for short.
First, I gotta congratulate Joss Whedon and everyone else involved for creating a fantastic flick that just fits into the Marvel Cinematic Universe's (MCU) continuity. We got some great action, interesting characters and a good plot. But still AoU is not perfect.
"What?!", you might say now, "the movie was the best Marvel movie ever!"
In parts, you are right. Compared to other movies of the franchise AoU is a masterpiece (looking at you, Thor!) but some points in the movie are predictable and/or don't achieve the planned effect.
In the following you find some suggestions of mine on how to make this already great movie a even better one.
1. Give us the villain we deserve!
When we first saw Ultron at the end of the first trailer we were thrilled. With his epic James Spader voiceover caliming he had no strings on him and was free now, the villain was set up to be the Avengers biggest threat until today - in the team and individually.
Then time went on and with each trailer, TV spot and showcase we learnt more about this iconic robot with a love for peace from the comics. Yes, Ultron's main goal in the comics is to achieve worldwide peace, but sadly he sees the solution to this problem in the extinction of the human race.
Then the movie came out and the first we saw of Ultron was this:
We saw a almost completely ripped and oil-bleeding robot giving us a great monolog about humanity, his hate towards us and Strings. Ultron has taken over Tony's Iron Legion. (The funny thing about this is, that he spent not even one minute on the internet and decided that humanity needs to be destroyed).
He then summons the rest of the Iron Legion only to have himself and the rest of the robots destroyed by the mostly unarmed Avengers. But in the last second he is able to transfere his mind to Baron von Strucker's Hydra facility and have the machines there build him a new body. Good luck those machines were able to do so without human assistance.
Then we see him encounter the Maximoff twins (what have they been doing the whole time?) and introduces them to his new fancy body:
Then he seemingly goes on to robbing tech facilities around the world offscreen. Maybe some Ultron drones storming such a facility would have been nice, maybe to sneak in some minor Ant-Man easter egg when they rob Pym Labs? My point here is to show the Avengers that Ultron is there and that he's still up to something, like really up to something. For this major plot point a 10 seconds briefing by Maria Hill may not be enough. Show us the action.
Then the battle goes on but in the end, in Sokovia, Ultron doesn't pose much of a threat either. Ok, it took three of the most powerful Avengers to melt the Vibranium on his armor but then he just ran and took a jet?! First, either let him kick some major ass and tackle the Hulk or let him be like "I am better then this" and have him look over the battle as long as his drones are still able to handle the situation. Second, he doesn't take a jet, this should be natural.
While you have Ultron watching over the battle and finishing his evil plan, you have Hulk jump up to him but Ultron deflecting the green gamma monster with ease. Then he takes part in the battle, kills one or two Avengers with his bare hands (I am coming to this) and fights off the rest of the team all at the same time. The rest of the fight can go as shown with Scarlet Witch ripping out Ultron Prime's 'heart' and shit going down.
The last time we see Ultron is him in the body of a drone sneaking away from the battle when Vision lands before him, they have a actually very well written dialog - I'd love to keep this in the movie - and then he just dies. What? You even know what's so great about Ultron?
He's always one step ahead of the heroes. He is able to think about a million ways of how shit could go down and he plans for each of this possibilites. He doesn't just die, he always returns. In fact, Ultron is the only MCU character I'd tolerate to return after death. Push the Thanos scene back to after the credits - they had the space for that - and show us what happened to Ultron after his apparent death in the mid-credit-scene. Show us some piece of hardware (Iron Man-Armor, destroyed Ultron drone, a Nintendo 64, etc.) in a dark corner with nobody watching it. Suddenly it switches itself on with red lights and says something like: "Ultron upload complete."
So, let's summarize:
- make us relate to Ultron
- make him a big threat
- keep on to the freedom motive you set up in the trailers
- don't kill him off in the end
2. Final Battle
The final battle of AoU was a bit of a mess. You have the Avengers fight in a place no one knows off because its doesn't really exist and that's only in the movie because - why exactly? Couldn't Hydra have its base somewhere else in the world? They fight against an army of faceless machines. They fight against a villain whose plans you don't really understand until half the city gets lifted up into the air to become a meteor that is supposed to destroy all life on earth (sounds ridiculous and not thought about this way, doesn't it).
So, there is absolutely no real connection to this country but that it is Wanda's and Pietro's birth place, and even that isn't really set up in the movie. To be honest, nobody cares about this country.
Have the final showdown instead set in a military facility Ultron wants to launch the US military's nuclear arsenal from. Not as spectacular as a meteor but more relatable. So they have their battle in this facility and Ultron has taken some human hostages a shields against the Avengers. They back of but Scarlet Witch doesn't care. She risks people's lives to fight Ultron. The rest of the Avengers engages into the battle. It goes of as previously written.
And you don't have Helicarrier appearing deus ex machina. Where did it come from? Why has nobody ever noticed it? I know, it was explained on Agents of Shield later, but ... no, this is just dumb and I am sure Marvel did this because they didn't want to show people die on-screen.
But this is my version, so Ultron fires a nuclear warhead on a major city (maybe in Eastern Europe, so Marvel had it's creative input). Iron Man and Thor try to stop it but they fail and thousands of people are dead. Surprise, Ultron is really bad and doesn't care about human lives.
In the end, the battle must not have been a clear win for the Avengers. This movie leads up to Civil War, the more causalties the better. Something has to happen between Iron Man and Captain America. They must not be friends any longer. This is real life, not some kind of game. People are trusting in the Avengers, individuals with incredible powers. Whatever they do has an impact. And that has to be shown in AoU. It doesn't have to be the main theme of the movie but you have to see loss and despair.
3. Who dies?
Killing Quicksilver, I have to say, meh. I know, somebody had to die, but Quicksilver? This kid, who was a villain half the movie. I think, I am not the only one who wasn't able to relate to him in just ten minutes. Instead, someone we cared about should've died. Best case, killed by Ultron himself with his bare hands. And the candidate to die was: Hawkeye!
No shit, I'm actually sure Whedon was actually building up to killing Hawkeye. We were introduced to his family, his children, his life absent the Avengers. Why do all of this when not intending to kill him off? Surely not to have him name his third child Pietro.
No, Joss Whedon wanted to kill Clint Barton. but then Marvel and Jeremy Renner contradicted. The studio didn't want 12-years-old boy to leave the theatre with a hero they liked dead, and Renner wanted to keep the role. In the end Whedon was right, we should have seen Barton's neck being snapped by Ultron. This would have shown us - yeah, Ultron's really bad. And not only Scarlet Witch would have cried.
You know what, kill both.
Although all of this must have sounded a lot more critical than intended. I enjoyed myself watching the movie and I hope many others did, too. Whedon is an amazing director who knows what to do. I don't presume myself superior to his writing skills, this is just my personal opinion on the topic and my first post and I hope some of you will share it.